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Alternatives to standard medical insurance options

 

Alternatives to standard medical insurance options
Alternatives to standard medical insurance options

Alternativesto standard medical insurance options

If you simply shop blindly around the internet for health insurance, you will receive multiple contacts from health care programs, many of which are NOT insurance. They are not illegal, nor are all of them scams—although some are.


They are discount programs which work in a variety of ways. In some cases, if you have insurance with a high deductible, a discount program may help you meet that deductible. But you need to be able to recognize them. The following descriptions will give you a general idea of how these programs work.


·         Discount Health Care Plans

A discount plan is exactly what it sounds like. You pay a monthly premium. In return, the administrators of the program negotiate with your doctor or hospital to accept a reduced fee. You have to pay the reduced fee yourself.

The company does not reimburse you, nor does it pay any portion of your medical bill. They do nothing but negotiate to get you a lower fee. Some of these programs claim to reduce your medical costs by up to 80%, but 20% to 30% is more common.

Before paying for a discount policy, you need to contact your area hospital and your regular doctor on your own. Take the time to visit your doctor's office with literature from the company that you can show to the person who handles the billing.

If they have never heard of the company, steer clear. Callers that promise enormous discounts—and demand a credit card or some payment over the phone in order to "guarantee" the lowest rate—are sources of the biggest scams. Nevertheless, legitimate discount programs do exist.


·         Direct reimbursement programs

You may be familiar with these programs as "personal accident" coverage, or something that will pay you a certain amount per day in the hospital or emergency room if you have a covered accident. You pay the hospital or facility whatever is charged. Then you submit a report to the company, and they send a check directly to you.


Years ago, you had one very low premium for the entire year and could get it for yourself or for your entire family. A big selling point for those who had children was that if a child fell and cut his knee and required a visit to the emergency room, you could turn in a claim and collect even if you had insurance.


Direct reimbursement programs still operate much as they did in the past, but many companies have expanded coverage to include illness as well as accidents. Some also reimburse you for laboratory work or x-rays.

You receive a schedule telling you how much you can collect for any covered event. These programs are generally more reliable than a mere discount program, especially when run by well established companies.


·         Brotherhood and Fraternity programs

These, if financially solvent, are some of the best alternatives to regular health insurance. They are run by organizations whose members contribute to the "pot," which is doled out when a member has a need. At one time you had to be a member of the fraternity, but some are now accepting non-members.


Usually, they do not pay for routine doctor's visits or for medicine, but they pay for catastrophic illness or for hospitalization. It is not considered insurance, but you cannot join the organization if you do have other insurance.

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